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Journal of Applied Genetics 51(4), 2010, pp. 479-487

Genes associated with long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in bovine skeletal muscle

R. Perez, J. Canon, S. Dunner

Abstract: Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (n-3 FAs) influence meat tenderness, juiciness, and flavor, and are beneficial to human health. The percentage of long-chain n-3 FAs in total FAs is termed the omega-3 index (O3I). It is thus of great interest to favor rising this index in bovine skeletal muscle, to obtain healthier, tastier, and more nutritive meat. This study was aimed to detect transcriptomic variations related to O3I in muscles in 15-month-old males of 4 Spanish cattle breeds raised under the same conditions. Through the analysis of extreme O3I phenotypes, 3 genes of interest (AANAT, UCP2 and AHA1) were identified. AANAT and UCP2 were strongly up-regulated, while AHA1 was repressed in animals with a high O3I. Moreover, gene expression differed between GDF8-null animal muscles (tested for nt821del11 and Q204X mutations) and the wild-type muscles for genes GDH1, IGF2R, FADS1, ASPH, and AIM1, all showing down-regulation in Asturiana de los Valles calves with muscle hypertrophy (GDF8-null). This shows that in GDF8-null animals other pathways are used for FA synthesis.

Key words: differential display, lipid metabolism, long-chain fatty acids, meat quality, omega-3 fatty acids.

Correspondence: S. Dunner, Department of Animal Production, Veterinary Faculty, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain; e-mail:

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